Ted Cruz may now hold the largest share of the North Dakota caucus delegates, but like the other GOP hopefuls, he’ll be continuing to court the state’s affections.
In North Dakota, Ted’s pledged supporters are free to change their mind at any time, and half of the state’s 28 delegates aren’t revealing their vote at all — be it for Cruz, Trump, or Kasich.
North Dakota will not be holding a traditional primary or caucus election to allocate its delegates. Instead, higher-ups in the state’s Republican party will be dictating whether the state’s 25 delegates — plus three super delegates — will go to Cruz, Trump, or Kasich. That group includes the Republican National Committeeman and Committeewoman for North Dakota, the state GOP Chairman, and two regional representatives chosen by the area’s GOP chairs, reported CBS News.
After a contentious vote among key North Dakota Republicans, it was decided that the delegates did not have to reveal their voting preference whatsoever — giving them unmitigated freedom to vote for Cruz, Trump or Kasich without telling anyone about it.
Although North Dakota already had a non-binding delegate selection process, special attention is being focused to their choices this year. North Dakota GOP Chairman Kelly Armstrong told local TV station KFYR-TV that this is due to new rules from the RNC that the state did not have time to comply with.
“I think it’s important to note that our delegates have never been bound and our rules are staying the same as they’ve always been. It’s only through a change in RNC rules that we got into this position. It really was a timing issue. We simply didn’t have enough time to develop caucus rules.”
Cruz lags significantly behind Trump, but party insiders who do not want to see Trump become the nominee are hoping that they will be able to block his victory. If Trump does not have the 1,237 delegates required to be the automatic Republican nominee, unbound delegates can step in to push the vote in Cruz’s direction.
That could still be the outcome at the Republican Convention in Cleveland at the end of July. If unbound delegates rally in his favor, Cruz could walk away with the nomination despite not winning the popular vote.
That makes North Dakota a fascinating precursor to how this entire situation will go down, reported The New York Times. As Cruz walked away with the most pledged delegates, it could be a telling sign for the future. Still, less than half of the group was willing to reveal their preferences. Those who were more candid with their preferences suspected that the others may have been holding out for special favors from the candidates, reported CNN.
“The scene here also illustrated what to expect in the coming weeks as state delegations across the country convene to pick the men and women who will ultimately choose the Republican nominee: how opaque the process can be, how quickly events can change and how newcomers to the political system are clashing with longtime party loyalists.”
Ted Cruz’s non-caucus acquisition of North Dakota’s delegates was also mirrored on the opposite end of the race this weekend. In Nevada, Bernie Sanders became the state’s delegate champion after thousands of Hillary Clinton supporters did not show up to county conventions. This took place after Clinton had won Nevada’s election with 52 percent of the vote in February. Like Ted Cruz’s delegate situation, no one is quite sure just how many points for Bernie that translates into.
[Image via Scott Olson/Getty Images]